Book Review – Build a Better Photograph

Build a Better Photograph – A Disciplined Approach to Creativity by Michael E. Stern

This is one of the more interesting photography books I have read during my sixty years doing photography. The four chapters of the book are; The Environmental Portrait, Compositing Techniques, 3D Scanning of Found Objects, and Great Product Photography. When just considering the topics, one might think this is a real potpourri of subjects.

But this is more than just a book of technique. The four chapters are autobiographical and reflect his philosophy and approach to developing a better photograph. In one sense, he allows the reader to “get into his thinking process” and that is important because it allows one to better understand how he has been successful.

He reveals in large part how he has marketed and negotiated his commercial contracts. I suspect some readers will be less interested in that aspect of his writings.

The book contains significant information on how Photoshop was used to achieve the specific photo discussed in each section. One soon realizes that a project requires an in-depth knowledge of digital imaging and how to use Photoshop. The examples are not for the neophyte in digital photography.

For those who are looking for the step-by-step technical aspects off digital imaging the book is accompanied by a CD which has several in-depth sections including tutorials covering specific operations or techniques in Photoshop. Also there are brief sections on understanding the basics of digital images, your monitor and printing.

This is primarily a book for photographers who wish to advance their capabilities. For those new to photography and Photoshop, I’d suggest studying the CD material first; then read the book.